NTSB issues report of Southwest Airlines fuselage tear incident; and other stuff

The National Transportation Safety Board issued its report of the 2011 in-flight fuselage rip in a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300. The flight made an emergency descent and landing at Yuma (AZ).

In other stuff:

  • CSeries Report: Bloomberg News has this video report interview with Bombardier’s Rob Dewar, who is in charge of the CSeries development.
  • Airbus: John Leahy is also interview by Bloomberg video, and offers a variety of views on traffic, the duopoly and emerging competitors. Note that Leahy makes a passing reference to the entry-into-service of the A350-900 at the “end” of 2014. This compares with information in the Ascend data base that the first delivery is scheduled for July 2014. In our post of EIS dates, we have the EIS in early 2015. It won’t take much for the EIS to slip from the end of next year to early the following year.
  • Gut bomb: We got such a kick out of this story that we had to include it. It’s about the Cinnabon, and it’s pure decadence.

Embraer selects PW GTF for E-Jet RE; concept clarity comes at last

It’s official: Embraer selected the PW GTF to re-engine the E-175, E-190 and E-195.

In doing so, it looks like the E-170 will be allowed to wither on the vine.

This is a huge win for PW and setbacks for Rolls-Royce, which sorely wanted to win the E-Jet RE for its Advance 2 RR development; and for GE, the incumbent supplier of the CF34 and which was developing the Next Generation variant for the E-Jet.

EMB EJet RE

It’s yet another validation for the GTF. Versions of this engine will power the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Bombardier CSeries, the Irkut MS-21, the Airbus A320neo family and now the E-Jet RE.

It’s a huge comeback for PW, which made a major strategic error in not competing to power the Boeing 737 300/400/500. Boeing continues to use the GE/CFM LEAP engine as its sole-source supply for the 737 MAX, though Boeing seriously evaluated the GTF as well.

Below is EMB’s press release:

Embraer Selects Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower Engines for Second Generation of E-Jets

São José dos Campos, January 8, 2013 – Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) announced today that Pratt & Whitney´s PurePower® Geared TurbofanTM engines have been selected for its future, second generation of E-Jets, with entry into service planned for 2018. The decision is an important milestone in the program, which is expected to be officially launched later this year.

The new engines – the PW1700G and PW1900G – range in thrust from 15,000 to 22,000 pounds. In combination with new aerodynamically advanced wings, state-of-the-art full fly-by-wire flight controls and other systems evolutions, they will result in double digit improvements in fuel burn, maintenance costs, emissions and external noise.

“We are very happy to expand our partnership with Pratt & Whitney, keeping the E-Jets family as the best solution for our customers, today and in the future”, said Frederico Fleury Curado, President & CEO of Embraer. “The PurePower GTF engines are a great fit to the next generation of our E-Jets and we look forward to another long lasting and successful program with Pratt & Whitney”.

“We are proud that Embraer has recognized the unmatched value of the PurePower engine, and we are committed to supporting a successful launch of the new E-Jet aircraft family,” said Pratt & Whitney President David Hess. “To date, Pratt & Whitney has completed more than 4,200 hours and 12,400 cycles of full engine testing for the PurePower engine family, demonstrating the benefits and reliability of the engine architecture.” Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

The second generation of E-Jets will be a significant step in Embraer´s commitment to continuously invest in this line of commercial jets, complementing a series of ongoing improvements currently being implemented in the existing family, with great benefits to its customers. Embraer´s objective is to offer the best product and maintain its leadership in the 70 to 120 seat market.

Southwest places firm order for MAX

Southwest Airlines became the first customer to place a firm order for 737 MAX. The press release is here. First delivery is 2017.

Southwest had been urging Boeing to proceed with the re-engine for two years, only to watch American Airlines become the first company to commit to the MAX last July.

Southwest has ordered more 737s than any other customer. It was the launch customer (and operator) of the 737-300/500/700.

AirInsight reports Southwest likely received a discount of around 48%.

Southwest’s delivery schedule for the MAX is here.

737-9 Mission creep, Odds and Ends and 500,000

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh was clear: he wants changes to the 737 MAX to be kept to a minimum.

This will keep the R&D cost down–a figure Corporate CFO James Bell said on the 2Q earnings call would be 10%-15% that of an entirely new airplane ($10bn-$12bn, depending on who’s figuring; it is unclear how much of the R&D is paid by CFM).

But there is pressure to add range to the 737-MAX 9 (henceforth we’ll be referring to individual models of the MAX series as the -7, -8 and -9 and the family as a whole as just MAX). The 737-9 falls short of a true 757 replacement in range.

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Southwest Air’s second 737 decompression

Southwest Airlines suffered a second in-flight decompression of a Boeing 737-300 yesterday. This is the second–the first was in July 2009.

Both airplanes were 15-year old 737-300s and the failure on both airplanes were in the aft fuselage. The 2009 incident involved a hole in front of the vertical fin about one foot in size. Friday’s incident was bigger, about three feet, further forward and on the left size but aft of the wing.

Southwest grounded 79 737-300s for inspection, all about 15 years old. The company doesn’t have word how long the inspections will take; about 300 flights will be canceled today.

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